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Q & A with Amaranth’s Brendan Klatt

SPONSORED CONTENT – I am proud to say we are one of the few family owned health food stores left in Alberta, and likely the biggest.

Three decades. Multiple stores. Clear success. Amaranth, the whole food brand started by people that wanted to build a better world, is enjoying its expansion across Edmonton and Calgary. Today co-owner Brendan Klatt shared the story behind the brand.

Tell Us a Little About Yourself and Your Mission for Amaranth

I grew up with two CPA parents and went to school to be an airline pilot.

When I first started with Amaranth, we crafted a mission of making sure our stores had an amazing customer experience. As a small business, it’s been an uphill battle creating the service-based culture and quality standards to achieve that mission, but ultimately it has also been a fulfilling one. We have a value focused organization and work to make our values part of everything we do at the leadership and store level. From making sure we have products with clean ingredients that we can stand behind, to constantly working on our supply chain to make sure products are in our store when our customers need them, high standards are crucial to succeed and make an impact in the very competitive space of grocery/supplement retail.

What is Your Leadership Style?

It’s my job to do the ongoing strategic planning and look up to 10 years into the future to guess what obstacles are coming our way and set us in motion to reduce risk and maximize opportunities. As I learned in my airline training – when there’s a thunderstorm ahead it is best to divert as soon as possible (advice the Titanic crew never took to heart)!

How Has the Company Continued to Evolve Over 30 Years?

My parents and a third partner started the company after my younger brother was born in 1994. My parents started as CPA accountants, but had a passion for organic food and recycling. My Dad got frustrated with the service he received at other health food stores and wanted to start a new store that put customers first, was clean and organized, and accepted everyone that came in regardless of where they were on their health journey.

In 2000 my dad moved his store into a larger location nestled in Arbour Lake and bought a small supplement store as a second location. In 2011 he opened a third market in the beautiful Enjoy Centre in St.Albert.

Unfortunately, around this time a number of challenges started to emerge. Health food was not a niche market anymore and suddenly stores like Superstore and Costco were carrying many of the same products with less margins. Online stores started populating with wider product assortments and less overhead. The economy in Alberta took a turn for the worse and many of our customers had less expendable income. In Calgary, another health food store decided to open up two minutes from our flagship store, making an immediate impact on sales as the market was split down the middle. In 2015 a third health food store opened 10 minutes away from our flagship store!

Despite the Enjoy Centre store growing month by month and us opening a fourth location, overall sales dropped by 10 per cent in 2016, with our flagship store declining 15 per cent-20 per cent for 3 years in a row. Sales and margins were dropping, culture took a hit, and talented team were leaving the company.

I joined the company in 2016 after college with a recently found passion for everything business and a lifetime passion for health and good food. In 2017 I started a focus on upgrading our marketing and hand writing thank you cards to our top customers. In 2018 I started finding new products and working in supply chains. Shortly after I took management of our downtown location and learned how to turn around declining stores and achieve growth.

We had to navigate changing rules from the government and customer concerns that often resulted in conflicting needs and wants. My dad and I began having multiple meetings a week with our leadership – trying to stick to our values on difficult decisions and manage a hundred different factors and issues. Fortunately, our resolution to stick by our team, our communities, our customers, and our products paid off; 2020 saw us grow 18 per cent and in 2021, a further 10 per cent.

With so Much Competition, what is the Amaranth Advantage?

Amaranth still works to make sure every interaction with a customer is as memorable and high quality as we can make it, and the shopping experience is where it needs to be. Recently our team has been doubling down on finding unique products to make sure our product mix is industry leading.

I am proud to say we are one of the few family owned health food stores left in Alberta, and likely the biggest.

My father partnered with a non-profit called Health First Network (HFN). HFN is a network of almost 100 family-owned health food stores across Canada that partner together to stay competitive against mass market and larger organizations. We have buying power, share ideas, have our own supplement label, and stay out of each others’ trading areas. HFN has been a key tool in our toolbox to stay family owned and competitive against larger players.

What are Your Philanthropic Pursuits?

By supporting local farmers, we help the local economy and improve sustainability in the local environment by reducing food miles and growing the health of our soil and ecosystems.

My dad and I have set up the Klatt Foundation and we contribute to charities each year like Calgary Reads, Doctors Without Borders, and Calgary’s Highfields.  We also contribute 1 per cent of our profits each quarter to a charity of choice. In the past we have given back to Basically Babies, veteran organizations, and helped wild salmon populations through Raven Trust, an Indigenous charity. We also organize volunteering events for pancake breakfasts, the Calgary Food Bank, and Calgary Brown Bags for Kids.

Where can Readers Learn More?

Visit us online, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

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